Three of the publishing industry’s most influential leaders this month sat down at Union Club in London’s Soho to pass their verdict on some of our industry’s most innovative tech companies.
The setting was the Soho Sessions, New Digital Age’s (NDA) Dragons’ Den-style pitch event, which over the last three years has generated a huge number of new business relationships and revenues for contestants.
At the July Soho Sessions, representatives from tech providers Lotame and Wunderkind pitched their services to the judging panel of Alex Kirby, Revenue Operations Director, Hello; Nick Flood, Global Ad Product & Revenue Operations Director, Future; and Chris Daniels, Chief Commercial Officer, Haymarket Automotive.
In homage to Dragon’s Den, the first session saw each contestant present in turn to the entire judging panel fora strictly-enforced 15 minutes followed by individual deep-dive 25-minute sessions with each judge and their wider teams.
The Soho Sessions were launched as an online event during the pandemic as the real-life meetings between tech companies and agencies and publishers that are the lifeblood of innovation were curtailed or disappeared completely.
Partnership and collaboration are crucial for agencies and publishers to ensure they are employing the right technologies, among the bewilderingly-large and constantly changing range of options available.
NDA’s Social Sessions is designed to enable the right environment for such partnerships and collaborations to flouris.
The judges at this month’s event were enthusiastic about the innovation on display at Soho Sessions.
“It’s quite difficult to cut through the noise sometimes and in our roles,weget probably five or six emails a day from new tech suppliers,” said Kirby. “So having leading tech companies come together in a session where you’re fully engaged, with no distractions is incredibly valuable.”
Haymarket’s Daniels agreed that the constant barrage of new technologies was a challenge for publisher to find the right partners.
“You do get a non-stop stream of emails selling in new tech providers, so having it curated like this, with a level of recommendation in terms of quality is really useful,” he said.
The ability to fully engage with tech companies also throws us some very interesting results. One judge’s wider organisation was already working with one of the contestants at Soho Sesions this month but was unaware of the services that were presented at the event. Conversations have now begun to let the publisher take advantage of the wider capabilities of the tech company.
At Future, Nick Flood said that finding the right partners was a critical part of his job.
“A lot of companies these days don’t really understand the pressure publishers are under. I met some great companies today and, as long as it fits in with our wider priorities around making sure the user is first and foremost, and at the centre of everything, then there’s a good chance we’ll we’ll end up working with some of these companies.”
Jack Green, Director of Business Development at Wunderkind, agreed that “death by email” was one of biggst challenges in the tech sector today.
“The people who are in our demand just don’t respond well to email, so events, giving you the ability to meet in person in environments like this is definitely more efficient than sending 100s of emails to the same person who’s gong to get very bored, very quickly,” he said.
Ross Mcmillian, VP Commercial Solutions said he also thought that events are today the most effective way for tech companies to effectively engage clients.
“This was a great opportunity to speak to different publishers about our technology. Soho Sessions are much more intimate and give you a chance to get into the weeds and speak on a much more candid basis with publishers.”